First I applaud the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ recognition that their responsibility to provide storm surge protection to the Lake Pontchartrain Basin, as directed by Congress, is not complete and more protection is needed.
I am also pleased that the corps is proactively evaluating projects and submitting a funding request to Congress to fulfill its responsibility to provide a risk reduction system for the Lake Pontchartrain Basin/greater New Orleans area.
However, the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain proposal to spend $1 billion to protect only 7,000 structures around the community of LaPlace is not the direction in which the corps should proceed in fulfilling its responsibilities.
A comprehensive, cost-effective approach to protect the entire Lake Pontchartrain Basin is needed. The corps’ costly piecemeal approach of walling off individual communities and redirecting the lake’s surge into surrounding lake communities is not the answer. The Corps’ piecemeal approach for surge protection is not cost effective, does not fulfill Congress’ Lake Pontchartrain Basin storm surge protection requirements and increases surge risk to surrounding communities.
A onetime $3 billion investment to build overtopping weir structures at the Rigolets and Chef Menteur Pass would restrict storm surge from entering the basin, provide protection for the entire lake basin, fulfill Congress’ protection mandate and not harm residents living in Mississippi. Certainly, if we can put a man on the moon, we can restrict storm surge from entering the Lake Pontchartrain Basin without harming Mississippi. It’s not rocket science; it’s basic, straightforward, civil engineering.
Thomas Nolan Thompson